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But even if Paul could return to them immediately, it was not HIS power that would deliver the saints at Thessalonica and build their spiritual house. So Paul prays for the only solution to their dilemma – He prays for their need to love.
Love is the necessary foundation for every church that seeks to abound in the work of the Lord. The word “increase” (pleonasai) means to multiply over and
over. The word “abound” (perisseusai) means to excel and overflow. If the church of Jesus Christ is to grow, it must allow the love of Christ to multiply and overflow into the world.
It would seem a reasonable expectation to compel church members to love one another, but how can they extend that love even to their enemies? Love’s interpretation is forever competing against a worldly definition of love that will not set the Church of Christ free from the bondage of hatred.
The world teaches us to offer only requited love – to love only those who love us. But the love of Jesus Christ challenges us to love ALL MEN, not just one
another. Paul prays, “The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men.” Imagine a love pouring from the church that is so great as to include all men….not just the neighbor who borrowed your lawn mower and didn’t return it, but the terrorist, the prisoner, the homeless, the murderer, the dictator, the spiteful.
The Model Church must love ALL people. But how? How can we abound in love for those who offend us, who persecute us, and who cause us pain? How is it possible to love those who treat us as enemies? Is it even practical to ask us to love all men? Is it even humanly possible? No! Of course, it is not. Man’s ability to love is carnally founded on reciprocal love.
But there is a way; God’s way. And that is the subject of Paul’s prayer. Paul prays knowing that the source of love is the Lord. There is no other source, not for the kind of love that can love all men. So Paul, knowing his own limitations in the flesh, goes before the Lord to request such a love. Paul knew that it was impossible for him or the Thessalonians to work up the kind of love that could reach out and abound toward all men. Paul could not love those who imprisoned him and kept him from his beloved church at Thessalonica – but Christ had the power to love his incarcerators through him. A love that could love those who ignore, neglect, abuse, and shamefully treat us could only come from God. That’s agape love - the very love of God Himself. It alone can conquer the hearts of men and make them love their enemies, no matter how they treat us.
Hatred is a powerful weapon of Satan that stifles the soul and eats at the flesh. The Model Church does not have the time to plot and scheme against its enemies. We know that vengeance is the Lord’s work, not ours, and we cannot allow the emotion of hatred to slow our work for kingdom building. Love is how the church of Jesus Christ GROWS. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
Love will present the church unblameable before God when Christ returns to earth. The word “stablish” means to support, confirm, or make fast. It is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who stablishes our hearts before God. No one else has the right or power to set us before God and
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